I haven't professed my love for Pioneer Woman lately, but tonight is the night. Oh man! I seriously think Pioneer Woman is one of the best cooks ever. I love her so much I am willing to put her on the pedestal with the likes of Giada, Ina, and Rick (de Laurentiis, Garten, and Bayless). That, dear readers, is serious l-o-v-e! All of the recipes that I have tried from PW have been great, and tonight's dish was no exception. I have been wanting to try this recipe since I saw it on her website about a month ago. I am always on the lookout for good vegetarian meals, but for one reason or another, it kept getting pushed back. This pasta dish was so fan-freakin'-tastic...I am sorry I ever put it off! How silly of me!!!
The family and I had a busy day and a huge lunch, so I wanted something that wasn't going to sit in our stomachs like a ton of lead bricks. This pasta was the perfect choice! It was substantial and flavorful without being too heavy. Luckily, it was exactly what I had in mind!!!
I had to take a few liberties with the ingredients list; based on what I had on hand. I am happy to report that even with my changes, this recipe was still a total winner! (See my notes below for changes.) I made some quick salads to go with our pasta, and that was it. So simple and good! Really, I could go on raving, but you get the idea. Since I made some significant changes, I am going to post the link to PW's original recipe and post my adaptation.
Here is the original:
PW's Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Here is my adaptation:
PW's Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (Jen's Version)
2 jars of roasted red peppers, drained and blotted dry on a towel
4 tablespoons pine nuts, divided
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fat free half and half
1/3 cup of evaporated non-fat powdered milk
Fresh basil, chopped
Fresh Parmesan, shaved or grated
1 package of bow tie pasta
Drain liquid from jar of peppers. Remove peppers to a clean kitchen towel and blot dry. Place dry peppers in food processor. Lightly toast all the pine nuts in a dry skillet. Once nuts are toasted, place 2 Tablespoons of the toasted nuts in the food processor with the red peppers. Puree peppers with pine nuts. Set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions.
In a skillet or pot over medium heat, drizzle in olive oil. Add diced onions and garlic and cook until soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add salt to taste. Let simmer on low for a few minutes, so mixture is thick.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together fat free half and half with evaporated non-fat milk, making sure there are no little lumps. Pour the half and half mixture into the red pepper mixture and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Add cooked pasta, then stir together. Place pasta into a bowl, top with chopped basil and plenty of shaved Parmesan. Top with remaining 2 Tablespoons of toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top. Enjoy!!!
If you compare the two recipes, you will see that I had to improvise on a couple ingredients. No fresh parsley for one. Thank goodness I still had some fresh basil! The basil was great. Then, I didn't have heavy cream; BUT I remembered a trick. I read somewhere that you could combine skim milk and dry evaporated non-fat milk for a similar effect to heavy cream. I was low on skim milk, so I went with our fat-free half and half instead. I just kept adding the dry milk until I got the consistency I wanted. Skim milk and/or fat-free half & half are pretty watery on their own, therefore my concoction needed to be thickened. The dry milk beefed it up nicely...so problem solved. It worked like a charm, and it was a lot healthier than heavy cream would have been!!!!
If you haven't guessed this already...we thought this dish was AWESOME!